Hi, everyone.

Because she buried herself in her books, she didn't know it was raining outside.

 

Some people say the sentence above can also be phrased as:

1, Burying herself in her books, she didn'tknow it was raining outside.

2, Buried in her books, she didn't know itwas raining outside.

 

Questions

1,For the original sentence. Is it necessary to change it into past perfect:

Because she had buried herself in her books, she didn't know it was raining outside.

 

2, I think "Burying herself in ...."is not correct. It should be "Having buried herself..."What do you think?

Original Post
Robby zhu posted:

Because she buried herself in her books, she didn't know it was raining outside.
[. . .]

1,For the original sentence. Is it necessary to change it into past perfect:

Because she had buried herself in her books, she didn't know it was raining outside.

Hello, Robby zhu,

The past perfect is indeed needed in the "because"-clause. Without the past perfect there, the "because"-clause indicates that burying herself in her books was a past habit she had and that, because of that past habit, she didn't know it was raining outside. But that isn't the meaning that is wanted.

The meaning that is wanted is that she didn't know it was raining outside (on a certain occasion) because (on that occasion) she had (at some earlier point in time) buried herself in her books. Having buried herself in her books, she was buried in her books while it was raining and was oblivious to the rain.

Robby zhu posted:
Some people say the sentence above can also be phrased as:


1, Burying herself in her books, she didn'tknow it was raining outside.

2, Buried in her books, she didn't know itwas raining outside.

[. . .]

2, I think "Burying herself in ...."is not correct. It should be "Having buried herself..."What do you think?

Yes, "Burying herself in" should be "Having buried herself in":

(3) Having buried herself in her books, she didn't know it was raining.

The second paraphrase ("Buried in her books, she didn't know it was raining outside") doesn't work, either, at least not very well. It would be much better with "Being buried":

(4) Being buried in her books, she didn't know it was raining.

Robby zhu posted:

One further question.

When she buried herself in books, someone came in and stole her purse.

Is it also necessary to backshift this sentence?Does "When she buried herself in books" suggest habit in the past? 

Hi, Robby zhu,

I hope you (and David) don't mind my stepping in.

"When she buried herself in books" does suggest a habit in the past. The zero article before "books" makes the habitual meaning even stronger. But then you have a main clause that seems highly unlikely to have occurred repeatedly, unless we add "always":

- When she buried herself in books, someone always came in and stole her purse.

If you want to refer to a one-time occurrence, then you need the past perfect, or else to change "when" to "after":

- When she had buried herself in her books, someone came in and stole her purse.

After she buried herself in her books, someone came in and stole her purse.

Notice I've changed the generic "books" to "her books." I think "books" would be possible if there were some previous context referring to some other reading material, and in this case I believe the past simple would be fine (do you agree, David?):

- She had been thumbing through some magazines at ease for hours but when she buried herself in books someone came in and stole her purse.

Unlike "because," which introduces a durative action as a result of which she never became aware of the rain, "when" can introduce a short action to mean that the moment she concentrated her attention on books, someone seized her distraction to take her purse.

Thanks, so the necessity of past perfect has something to do with the property of the conjunction "because". "When" ,on the other hand ,is not so strict.

 

Another sentence:

I did it because they asked me to do it.

 

Is it also correct? If it is,I think the correctness has something to do with the word order. In this case, because clause is after the main clause.

 

 

Robby,

The sentence is correct.  It would be more natural to elide to last two words:

a': I did it because they asked me to.

This could be reworded as:

a'' They asked me to do it so I did.

David might disagree with me on this point, but in this latest example of yours, I see "because" as a coordinating conjunction that joins two clauses of equal weight:

α: They asked me to do it.
β: I did it.

Perhaps more importantly, though, I think that your question about this other sentence is sufficiently removed from your original question that it would have been more properly addressed in a separate thread.

DocV

Robby zhu posted:

Thanks, so the necessity of past perfect has something to do with the property of the conjunction "because". "When" ,on the other hand ,is not so strict.

 Another sentence:

I did it because they asked me to do it.

 Is it also correct? If it is,I think the correctness has something to do with the word order. In this case, because clause is after the main clause.

I agree with DocV. As you can see in his explanation, when there is a sense of immediacy the past simple is used in both the subordinate and the main clause:

- They asked me to do it and I did it -> I did it because they asked me to.

The decision to use past simple or past perfect in the clause of reason has nothing to do with word order, but with how previous the reason is with respect to the result. Please compare:

- He had already asked me to do it (several times, long ago) so, when the time came, I did it -> I did it because he had asked me to.

As soon as he asked me to it, I did it -> I did it because he asked me to.

Add Reply

Likes (0)
×
×
×
×